Victims and self-help groups from across the country gathered in front of the legislature yesterday in a protest that urged the government to recognize the harm caused to the public by extremely low frequency (ELF) and electromagnetic radiation.
Tseng Pi-ching (曾碧清), a woman in a wheelchair, said she has been suffering from leukemia since 1994 after 11 years working as a cartographer for long hours in an office exposed to electromagnetic radiation at the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.
Eight other workers at the company aged between 29 and 38 had also been diagnosed with leukemia, she said.
After years of failed attempts to file for occupational accident compensation from the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), the Taipei High Administrative Court eventually ruled that Tseng’s illness was indeed an occupational accident caused by a harmful work environment.
Tseng said she joined the protest because she doesn’t want any more people to have to work in the same situation.
Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association (TEPCA) founder and chairperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) expressed the hope that government agencies would at least recognize that electromagnetic radiation is capable of causing cancer and take stricter precautionary measures against the possible harm to the public.
The group made the appeal ahead of a public hearing at the legislature to discuss such issues.
The public hearing, held by the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, discussed issues pertaining to environmental impact, cancer prevention, public nuisance control and administrative regulation of ELF and electromagnetic radiation.
Two main issues discussed at the hearing were whether long-term ELF exposure has an effect on health, what the limit of exposure should be and how administrative regulation, drafted by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), should be amended.
The reference level for exposure to ELF suggested by the EPA is 833mG, but TEPCA along with academics and doctors at the hearing said that was based on guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for transient or very short-term peak fields and that it should not be used to regulate long-term exposure.
They urged a limitation of 2mG for long-term exposure to ELF, the same level allowable at the workplaces of government agencies.
According to a written report provided to the legislature by the EPA, the ICNIRP modified the reference level from 833mG to 2,000mG last year.
Asked whether the EPA would raise the reference level, Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Hsieh Yein-rui (謝燕儒) said the agency had no intention to do so.
According to the latest amendments to the Telecommunications Act (電信法) and the Power Industry Act (電業法), high-voltage pylons and high-voltage sub-stations cannot be constructed within a certain distance of schools and hospitals, Hsieh said.
He said the agency would seek the advice of specialists and further consider how far the distance should be and whether to amend the regulations.